(Now expanded with my invaluable commentary!)
I've been systematically translating the Lunar interviews from Beep21, but there's news that I think can't wait. In the second part of his Eternal Blue interview, Kei Shigema talks about having drawn up a treatment for another Lunar - and it's not the story you might first think:
- Do you think you'll be able to be present the tale of the Four Heroes era (the so-called Lunar 0) touched upon in the PSP version of Silver Star in a game or other media?
Shigema: Lunar 0 has become a story of a bit different era!
As for the tale of the Four Heroes: the emotions and conflicts and fated bonds involved are released and resolved in Alex's story, so I don't think there's any need to depict it independently.
However, I'd like to write a little bit about Laike's story after the end of the game.
- Be honest: is there even a 0.1% chance of Lunar 3 in the future? I'm on pins and needles!
Shigema: I think the statute of limitations is up, so... (Actually, about 21 lines of grown-up stuff was deleted here...)
...So several years after the above was suspended, there were talks about whether we could now create a Lunar 0 about the details of how humanity moved to Lunar, and for consideration, we created a simple plot and characters. Mr. Kubooka even drew up rough sketches of the main characters.
These were just for consideration; they didn't go to production.
That means that, as for as the 0.1% chance goes: I don't think it's zero.
However: an extraordinary amount of manpower and funding is necessary to create an RPG from scratch in this day and age, and when I think of getting to the point of getting that all together, I think it would be enormously difficult.
I myself still want to hold out hope, so let's give Game Arts our support!
He also talks about his ideas on what may have happened after EB, which include a number of surprising concepts...
- What happened to Hiro and Lucia afterward?
Shigema: Welllll, I don't know—I suppose they went on a variety of adventures together?
Lucia may have awakened the Blue Star, but I don't imagine it would have revived immediately just like that. I wouldn't be surprised if an exhausted Hiro & Lucia had two or three more adventures on the level of Eternal Blue! Making new comrades from people sleeping on the Blue Star—maybe everyone on Lunar coming to help, of course. I also kind of doubt whether that would've really been the last we saw of Ghaleon-sama. And perhaps at the end of Hiro and Lucia's adventures, the frozen earth would have changed to green...
Shigema also thinks that the spiritual successor to Lunar has already been made:
Incidentally, while it's not a sequel to Lunar, Tales of Destiny 2 (TOD2) is its spiritual successor—its emotional heir.
I'd wanted overseas Lunar fans to play it, too, but, alas, there was no overseas release!
Abroad, Tales of Eternia was sold as "Tales of Destiny 2".
The role of TOD2's lengthy animated cutscenes; the expressions; the characters and story construction; the thematic material; the position of the heroine; the music production; and on and on—I think they're all connected fairly directly to Lunar. The element of romance between the characters etc. too is that way.
Particularly thematically, Lunar is, as an action-adventure tale, thoroughly about how the hero fights to save the girl he loves and saves the world in the process. With TOD2, we tried to go further and depict the decisions and growth of a hero forced to choose between the girl and the world.
Shigema is credited as a "script producer" on Tales of Destiny 2.
My response to all this can be summarized by this splendid editorial cartoon edit by political cartoonist pandorkful:
Going point by point:
Not doing the Four Heroes story: I'm doubtful, for a few reasons, that Shigema could write a good Four Heroes story now, so in a way, I'm relieved he's not touching it. To be greedy: Ghaleon and Dyne as characters have a special place in my heart, and I'm glad their tale rests safely, albeit noncomprehensively, in the best piece of media their franchise has to offer. I also have to respect Shigema for leaving a story element because he feels he's said all he has to say with it - not picking it up out of facileness or perceived obligation or a desire to make money. That said: I'm disappointed that he views the Four Heroes story as dispensible place-setting for the real event of Alex's tales - that these characters are useless beyond what they mean to Alex. I've said my piece previously, but I feel Shigema's weaknesses as a writer are reinforcing one of the worst aspects of his story (other characters being treated as means to his hero's glorification).
The plot idea of Lunar 0 itself: Was anyone asking for this? The story of humanity before it moved to Lunar? Isn't that now? Aren't we living that plotline?!?!
Seriously, what would we be looking at here? The origins of Althena and Zophar? These are archetypical characters - deities of light and darkness. They're expected to just be, to come from nothing. Althena's point of complexity and interest (from the franchise's perspective, anyhow) comes at the end, in how she eventually incorporates humanity into herself, not at the beginning. The origins of the mazoku? Shigema's not the bard of mazoku, and I'm not interested in his take on that. The origins of the beastmen? Of the Dragonmaster? No one would or should consider it canon, at least in reference to the other Lunar games, but Dragon Song kind of did both. Again: no one would take that as definitive, but you would be retreading old territory. (Incidentally, I don't think anyone asked about Dragon Song in the Q&As. It'd be impolite given its reputation - and I doubt Shigema'd want it mentioned in what seems ultimately to be a series of promo interviews designed to hype up fans for another Lunar - but sometimes you get the most worthwhile material out of creators when you talk about when things didn't go right.)
Also, while it'd be interesting - not advisable, but interesting - to see how they fit something approximating the real world into the Lunar universe, Tengai Makyo IV-style, do we want our filthy ol' world junking up the magical universe of Lunar? Having it rattling around in the background in far-off lore is different than having to spend 30 hours there.
I have to give the idea points for unexpectedness, and maybe Shigema thinks it'd be a good relaunch point for Lunar out of sheer novelty, but I don't see how he thinks he's said everything he needs to say about the Four Heroes and yet considers this era prime unplumbed material.
The existence of a formal treatment for plot & characters, however basic, for a Lunar 0: It seems even more certain now that Shigema and some of the old crew are, on some level, seriously trying to get another Lunar game together and used this series of interviews and the Mini to try to get some publicity and momentum going on that front. I don't know how practical this initiative of Shigema's is; funding for such a long-dormant title would indeed be a huge problem; and the concept seems to be in a very early, studio-unsupported, drawing-board stage - but it's more concrete than a fan petition.
Blue Star stuff: It wouldn't make a good point of reintroduction for the series, but I'm honestly more interested in Shigema's off-the-cuff notes on the possible Further Adventures of Hiro & Lucia than the proposed Lunar 0. There are other people sleeping on the Blue Star?! That kind of undermines the mystique of Lucia asleep all by her lonesome on a dead planet and brings to mind stock sci-fi apocalypse ark scenarios, but... Hiro and Lucia wandering the awakening planet, discovering (and interpreting or misinterpreting) pre-Althena ruins, meeting people from thousands of years ago...that honestly would be a more interesting, more in-universe way of incorporating the past history of the Blue Star than the Lunar 0 concept.
It would not be a good way to reintroduce the series after a long hiatus: you're intensely spoiling the second installment, using it as a scaffold for your relaunch, and at least partially relying on your audience having a pre-existing emotional investment in your leads. (And again, Shigema isn't framing it as such.) But it has my imagination more than Lunar 0.Ghaleon getting involved in post-Lunar 2 Blue Star stuff: My initial reaction is "not for this." His send-off in Eternal Blue was superb. He's at peace. He can entrust the world to future generations. His story is over. If you want more Ghaleon adventures, there's plenty of his lifetime to explore: during his solo wanderings, during his wanderings with Dyne; as one of the Four Heroes. Getting to the point of being able to entrust matters to someone else was his whole arc; involving him in a subsequent adventure risks undoing that. If he does come back, I'd like it to be something like I wrote here: in a guardian-like role tucked away in a garden corner of the world, available for advice but not making himself a major player in goings-on. And maybe that's what Shigema is envisioning! I'm glad Shigema loves Ghaleon, and as I said, I'd like to see these Eternal Blue ideas of his. I'm just a little wary here.
On Tales of Destiny 2 as Lunar's spiritual successor: Save for a false start at Zestiria, I haven't played a single Tales game and can't say give an opinion on how well Tales of Destiny 2 follows up Lunar in any capacity. I did read a plot synopsis, and there really doesn't seem to be anything that Lunar hasn't covered before. (In fact, a lot of it seems like warmed-over Eternal Blue, from the design of the main antagonist to the role of the heroine and the main conflict. I didn't learn until late that Shigema was involved in the game's script, and in that light, it seems like this game was an attempt to cope with not being involved with an actual Lunar title.)
What struck me is how the heroine's allegedly sixteen but dresses like she's six. I know this was the 2000s and we were in that "lingerie as outerwear" trend, but she's combining it with a distinctly...infantlike, almost, look that makes for a beyond-creepy fusion (that's also nothing like Lunar at all).
Also, on Tales allegedly advancing the Lunar story by someone choosing between a loved one and the world: Isn't that Ghaleon's story, from TSS? Didn't you yourself already do that, Shigema?
Also:Shigema wanting to write more about Laike:
I'll put the actual untranslated text in question below, since this is somewhat important news.
ちなみに、LUNARの続編ではありませんが、精神的な後継作品としてその想いを受け継いでいるのは、「テイルズ オブ ディスティニー2（TOD2）」です。
海外で「Tales of Destiny 2」として発売されたのは、「テイルズ オブ エターニア」なのです。